With an angry howl from coarsely-electrified strings, “Geronimo” breaks the dam holding back an ocean of amped-up grooves and melodic thunder in the new album Meet the Monks by Orange County’s Magnet Monks, and inside of the next two minutes and change, trying to escape the thrusting beat beneath the harmonies in this song will become just about impossible. We go from this track directly into the firestorm of melodies that becomes “Foxhole,” and while these first two songs only run a collective seven minutes in total length, they set forth a blueprint that Magnet Monks will follow without fail on their quest to make indie rock great again in 2020. Meet the Monks wants us to get to know their sound, and with an intoxicating pair of openers like these two, that becomes quite easy.
“Angels Crowded on the Bedside” breaks up the streamlined fluidity of the rhythm in “Foxhole” with a drunken drumbeat that swings as hard as it stomps, and in reality, the song’s bread and butter are melodic more than they are physical. Balladry doesn’t enter the fold until we come across the unassumingly emotional harmony centering on the lyrical content in “Up on the Mountain,” but beside the bludgeoning “Golden Cages,” this track isn’t quite as passion-plied. Magnet Monks don’t spend any great length of time working with a groove before discarding it and modulating to something a little more challenging, and that makes theirs quite the refreshing new album to come across in comparison to the safe-zone sounds their rivals in the mainstream are producing this year.
Not to be confused with the Rolling Stones song of the same name, Magnet Monks’ “Wild Horses” sounds more like something Eddie Glass wrote than it does anything in the Jagger/Richards songbook. Its porno guitar and 80’s style neon vocal give it a flamboyance that none of the other tracks in this LP have, and along with the heartfelt “Ulysses,” it’s one of my favorite compositions here. “Ulysses” is slowed down and steeped in a rich alternative Americana I wouldn’t have anticipated hearing from anyone other than an eclectic outfit like this one, and much like “Rockstar,” it demonstrates decadence with tempo and tonality more than it does excessive instrumental elements.
“Over Our Heads” and “Circus” feel like sides A & B of the same retro alternative rock single — the latter having been reimagined with a slight noise pop accent, mind you — but they set the stage for the finish line in “The New Rome” like no other material in this tracklist possibly could have. In the roughly five minutes that “The New Rome” lasts, Magnet Monks wander off into the night sounding more filled with an innocent yearning than anything else, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get the chance to review whatever sequel this yearning leads to in the future. For all of its surface level thrills n’ chills, Meet the Monks is a really deep-feeling record, and even though I didn’t know anything about its creators before hearing it just the other day, it’s made me want to understand their artistry and what it can do in a limitless environment for sure.